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Today's Reminder

June 25, 2021 | Dhuʻl-Qiʻdah 15, 1442

Living The Quran

Standard of Evaluation
Surah al-Maidah (The Table) Chapter 5: Verse 100

"(O Prophet Muhammad) say to them: 'Theevil(khabeeth) and thegood(tayyib) are not equal, even though the abundance of the evil things might make you pleased with them. (So) beware of disobeying Allah, O people of understanding, so that you may attainsuccess."

This verse outlines for us a standard of evaluation quite distinct from the standards used by the superficial people.For such people, for instance, a hundred dollars are worth more than five dollars, since a hundred is more than a five. But, according to this verse,if those hundred dollars have been earned through corrupt means, entailing the disobedience of God (such as by stealing, usurping the wealth of orphans or the weak, sellingHaramor forbidden things, or through Riba or interest), the entire amount becomes unclean.

On the other hand, if a person earns five dollars while obeying God, then this amount is clean and honourable; andanything which is unclean, whatever its quantity, cannot be worth more than that which is clean.A drop of perfume is more valuable than a heap of filth; a just ruler is more worthy of obedience and allegiance than a thousand evil, corrupt, and tyrannical leaders of the nations;a young boy or girl who spends his or her youth remembering Allah, helping others physically and spiritually, studying hard, calling others for the establishment of good, peace, and justice in the world, and helping others stay away from evil, is far more productive and dignified than hundreds of superficial youthsurrounded by and subservient to their own desires, devoid of any higher purpose in life, driven by the latest fad and fashion, and who are consumers of whatever the media wants them to know, see, and buy! Surely they can't be equal!

Yusuf Ali (may Allah have mercy on his soul) writes:"People often judge by quantity rather than quality. They are dazzled by numbers: their hearts are captured by what they see everywhere around them.But the people of understanding and depth judge by a different standard.They know that good and bad things are not to be lumped together, and carefully choose the best, which may be scarcest, and avoid the bad, though evil may meet them at every step,"such as through ads, media, peer pressure, cultural practices, etc.

It is interesting to note the following incidence, related by Imam al-Shafi'ee (may Allah have mercy on his soul), in this connection: When 'Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz (a renowned righteous and just Caliph from Umayyad dynasty) cancelled all the tyrannous taxes and returned the wealth and property that had been misappropriated by the rulers before him, one of his governors wrote to him and complained that by annulling taxes and returning the wealth to their owners, 'Umar had emptied the state treasury. Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz (may Allah be pleased with him) wrote back to him this verse: "The evil and the good are not equal, even though the abundance of the evil things might make you pleased with them."

Compiled From:
"Tafseer Ishraq Al-Ma'ani" - Syed Iqbal Zaheer
"Towards Understanding the Quran" - Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi

From Issue: 718 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Tenderness

A text is narrated by Ahmad ibn Hanbal in his Musnad from Anas, he said: "There was a slave woman from among the slave women of Madinah and God's Messenger took her by the hand and he did not take his hand from her hand while she went with him wherever she wished to go." Al-Bukhari narrated it with the wording: "There was a slave woman from among the slave women in Madinah, and she took the Messenger of God by hand; then she walked off with him wherever she wished."

The hadith demonstrates the extent of the Prophet's, peace be upon him, humility, courtesy and tenderness: though she was a slave woman she clasped him by the hand and she consulted with him through the city streets of Madinah, so that he decided for her certain needs. He was of extreme modesty and great in character, he did not want to hurt her feelings by withdrawing his hand from her hand. Rather, he shaded her, moving along with her in this situation until she was finished with the judgment of her need.

Compiled From:
"Approaching the Sunnah: Comprehension & Controversy" - Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, p. 165

From Issue: 761 [Read original issue]

Blindspot!

Islam & Culture

While Islam is a universal and timeless religion, it is expressed and practiced by people who are products of their environments, and who are very much of this world. As a result the practice of Islam has taken on many different cultural expressions of the universal elements it contains. For example, modesty is a universal value that has a minimum defined by Islamic law (shariah), but modesty is expressed differently in the cultural norms of different societies. For another example, customs related to hospitality may differ in different Muslim cultures. Within the boundaries dictated by Islamic law, many such variations can exist; they are a sign of the complexity and intricacy of God's creation.

It has been said that Islam itself is like a clean and pure stream of water. It runs over bright rocks of different colors—the cultures of the Muslims. The purity of the water allows the color to still be seen. It is not opaque; it does not prevent or obstruct the expression of the culture. Instead, it refines and enhances it. Mosques (masjids) in sub-Saharan Africa are African in architecture and different than mosques in Asia. Islam encourages us to be ourselves, removing the cultural customs that contradict the teachings of Islam and enhancing the ones that don't.

Many cultures have had Muslim influences for generations, and as a result, Islam has become nearly inseparable from their cultural customs. This does not mean that each of their cultural customs is an accurate expression of Islamic principles, although some may assume so. But such cultures, where many customs are indeed founded in Islamic principles, are fortunate in that people can subtly absorb the teachings of Islam without needing to learn them explicitly.

No Muslim should be made to feel as if their native culture as a whole is antithetical to Islam. Some elements within it will no doubt be so, while others will be in perfect synchrony with the religion. Your criterion in these issues should be Islamic law, which will guide you in finding your place of comfort in your culture as a person, and in your faith as a believer. The production of cultural norms that are both genuinely native and genuinely Islamic takes time, sometimes generations, and if your native culture is not predominantly Muslim, you should proudly contribute to this process.

Compiled From:
"Being Muslim: A Practical Guide" - Asad Tarsin, pp. 213, 214

From Issue: 949 [Read original issue]